Bharti Airtel, leading mobile operator and first LTE/4G operator in India is all set to officially launch 4G/LTE-TDD services in Pune, Maharastra on October 18th. Pune will be the third Indian city to get LTE network after Kolkata and Bangaluru.
In Maharastra Airtel’s LTE-TDD network is made by Nokia Siemens. It should be noted that ZTE and Huawei are managing Airtel’s LTE network in Kolkata and Bangaluru respectively.
There is no changes on the Airtel Pune 4G tariff plans and device cost. The 4G dongle and wireless router is to be priced for Rs 7999 and Rs 7750 respectively, limited period offer price is set for Rs 4999 of both devices.
The monthly tariff plans are: 6GB for Rs 999, 9GB for Rs 1399, 18GB for Rs 1999 and 30GB for Rs 2999. All plans offers unlimited usage at 128kbps post-free usage on high speed. Subscribers can opt for Airtel’s SmartBytes for extra data.
Now the big fat question is will this expansion make 4G ‘a bit’ popular ?
It is really tough for Airtel as they did not take the advantages of first mover. The biggest problem on Airtel 4G is it is using LTE-TDD technology which is not as mature as LTE-FDD – so equipments are bit costly and smartphones are not available. Also Airtel is deploying LTE-TDD on 2300 MHz band, which causes very poor indoor coverage.
There are inadequate number of LTE enabled BTS – many people asked for 4G demo are told about the nearest tower is not-optimized for 4G. Also in many places the equipment is of category 1 which will never give you mammoth speed expected on 4G/LTE.
The entry point (= device cost) is too high, with no seamless coverage or no roaming. The data plans can be cheaper, but Airtel can’t take risks as it may hamper own 3G data business.
So at the end this official announcements of launching 4G/LTE services are more like an announcement to meet roll out obligation.